Our mamas always said, “You must think before you speak.” But one scroll through Facebook and comment sections show everyone from hot-headed teenagers to disgruntled adults are more than ready to partake in a little back-and-forth jabbering.
Millennials, especially, catch a lot of grief from the media and older generations. Sure, some really are lazy, entitled, incompetent, and socially influenced — but not all. According to millennial researcher Jason Dorsey, millennials are “breaking into two. One group has their act together and is taking responsibility for their actions, while the other group has not been able to gain significant real-world traction.”
It’s no secret forward-thinking millennials have had it rough — and they know it. The economy hasn’t necessarily played fair for the so-called “me generation.” They’re saddled with debt and regarded as the job market’s biggest losers. Young people are beginning to fire back at these rampant claims because, well, they’re done taking crap. Even more, some claims are wildly untrue. Here are eight of the worst things you could ever say to a millennial in today’s economy.
1. You’d find a job sooner if you weren’t so entitled
“Just get a job already!” The job hunt is a real-life version of the Hunger Games for millennials who make up the most educated generation to date. Millennials entering the workforce between 2007 and 2009 faced the toughest job market in years. It’s safe to say no one felt more uncertain about their futures than millennials themselves, despite receiving undeserving ridicule from others.
College degrees aren’t worth what they once were. And the anxiety they face about heightened student loan debt, sporadic unemployment, and job security makes millennials unwilling to take low-paying jobs that can’t support their financial needs. With a median household income of $40,581, millennials earn 20% less than boomers did at the same stage of life, according Federal Reserve data conducted by the advocacy group Young Invincibles.
Next: Why we should stop telling millennials to buy homes and settle down
2. Stop messing around and buy a house, already
If there’s one thing being drilled into a millennial’s head, it’s that they must keep up with the Joneses. Nearly every Instagram post and blogger touts the need for a house and a job — pronto. The boomers love to reference that millennials are more focused on brunch dates and avocado toast than planting roots, but is foregoing homeownership really so irresponsible?
Sure, more millennials are living at home, but most aren’t doing this because they are snowflake burnouts with a work allergy. A recent Census Bureau report found 74% of young people living in their parents’ homes are either working or in school while they save for a down payment. Other millennials proudly uphold their reputation for renting while they job hop their way into more fulfilling and successful careers. Even author and entrepreneur Tony Robbins urges millennials not to buy homes. Buying property with income potential is more valuable to a young person looking to set themselves up for the future if they’re in a position to do so.
Next: What not to say to a millennial about skills
3. You don’t have the skills to ‘make it’
Another thing you should never say to a millennial is that they don’t have the “necessary skills” to succeed in today’s economy. The future of the workforce is changing. Qualities that once developed a “smart employee” years ago are not held at the same value today. The rise of artificial intelligence in the workforce is driving a need for cognitive and emotional intelligence at levels previously unseen in workers.
Therefore, the definition of “smart” employees is changing, per Harvard Business Review. Luckily, millennials are tech-savvy, all-inclusive team players who have revamped marketing, tech, and e-commerce with their social reliance. Young people are molded to spur innovative and creative thinking that works well in changing environments their older peers aren’t used to.
Next: A reputation for being lazy
4. You have no idea what hard work is
One of the most common millennial digs is an attack on their work ethic. Young people are frequently told they are flighty, entitled, and lazy. While this label usually encompasses the entire generation, most millennials exude a stereotype quite the opposite. In fact, they’ve even been accused of killing the vacation.
A study done by Project: Time off labels millennials as “work martyrs” because they are less likely than both boomers and Gen Xers to take allotted vacation days and are prone to let them go to waste instead. Nearly 43% of millennials feel guilty taking time off, compared to just 29% of all respondents. Even more feel shamed for going on vacation. And when they do actually step away from the office, most reported working every day to accommodate busy office tasks.
Next: Tell millennials something they don’t know about retirement.
5. You’re never going to retire
Unlike boomers, millennials are paying into a Social Security fund they’ll likely never see. They’re already acutely aware of their dismal retirement fate, so reminders aren’t necessary. About 51% say they do not believe they will have access to any money in the Social Security system by the time they’re ready to retire, and an additional 39% say they only expect the system to provide them with benefits at reduced levels.
Knowing this, millennials are taking retirement into their own hands. Wells Fargo reports 30% of millennials are maximizing employer match into their retirement accounts, compared to just 27% of Gen Xers and 25% of baby boomers.
The older generation often makes these pointed claims while referring to an assumed financial illiteracy within the younger crowd. But financial adviser Dave Ramsey found this claim to be inaccurate. About 38% of millennials already know how much money they’ll need to retire – right on track with boomers at 37% and Generation X at 36%.
Next: There are actually positives to job hopping.
6. Just stay put for once
Millennials catch a lot of flak for their lack of company loyalty. But some young people take offense to that label. It’s likely nearly everyone would jump at an opportunity when in the position to earn more money or accept a better offer. Most people can recall burning a bridge or two in their lifetime, not just millennials. About 10,000 experienced professionals retire daily, leaving job openings for ambitious millennials hoping to find success. And with so many companies forgoing annual raises, a millennial’s only chance at a salary increase might be to job hop.
Next: Why telling millennials to save money would be a waste of breath
7. You don’t save your money like we used to
No more lecturing younger workers about fiscal responsibility. It seems millennials are actually pretty good at saving money. Bank of America found 40% millennials ages 25 to 34 say they’ve already started to plan for a down payment, compared with just 35% of the general population. More than one-third already own homes.
A new study from Bankrate found 62% of millennials are saving more than 5% of their income. Only half of older adults can say the same. Despite making less than those who often criticize them, more Americans who make between $30,000 and $50,000 save over 10% of their income than those who make between $50,000 and $75,000. Yes, they’re worried about how they’ll repay their student loans but still exude a greater sense of conservative spending than most.
Next: Never tell a millennial they wiped out entire industries.
8. You’ve ruined American businesses
Other generations love to blame millennials for killing off once prominent American icons, including wine and beer industries, restaurants, and department stores. But when was the last time anyone said, “Let’s check out what Sears has to offer today”? Even the napkin industry has taken a hit. Regardless of such claims, millennials are actually driving traffic to malls, as they prefer to shop in specific branded stores. Young people are firing back, saying they have encouraged progressive innovation and product development with new ideas and methods. In fact, research proves they’ve saved industries, such as public libraries, coffee shops, live entertainment, and gyms.
Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.